Unconfusing Merely Confused Supposition in Albert of Saxony

in Vivarium
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In this essay I argue that Albert would reject the need for a separate fourth mode of common personal supposition, and that his view of merely confused supposition has not been fully explicated by modern scholars. I first examine the various examples of conjunct descent given by modern scholars from his Perutilis logica, and show that Albert clearly adopts it in resolving the sophistic examples involved. Second, I explicate the view of merely confused supposition that Albert defends in his Sophismata, and then attempt to answer the question: which view of merely confused supposition was his final view, the view articulated in the Perutilis logica or the view in the Sophismata? I conclude that based upon his Sophismata view of merely confused supposition, Albert came to realize the logical strength his revised theory of personal supposition afforded, and consequently, that he is one of the earliest 14th-century logicians to adopt conjunct terminal descent to resolve various sophisms, a move which gave his theory of personal supposition a logical symmetry having two sorts of propositional descents to singulars, and two sorts of terminal descents to singulars.


A Journal for Medieval and Early-Modern Philosophy and Intellectual Life




P.V. Spade, “The Logic of the Categorical: The Medieval Theory of Descent and Ascent” in Meaning and inference in Medieval Philosophy, ed. N. Kretzmann (Dordrecht, 1988), 196; Graham Priest and Stephen Read, “Merely Confused Supposition: Theoretical Advance or Mere Confusion,” Franciscan Studies, Vol. 40, Annual XVIII, (1980), 265-297.


P.V. Spade, “Ockham and the Predicates of ‘O’ Propositions,” Franciscan Studies, Vol. 36, Annual XIV, (1976), 263-270.


Stephen Read, “Thomas of Cleves and Collective Supposition,” Vivarium XXIX, 1 (1991), 71-72.


Cf. P.T, Geach, Reference and Generality, xii.


Read, “Thomas of Cleves and Collective Supposition,” 53.


Stephen Read, “Thomas of Cleves and Collective Supposition,” 54.


As in Read, “Thomas of Cleves and Collective Supposition,” 79.


Norman Kretzmann, “Syncategoremata, Exponibilia, Sophismata,” in The Cambridge History of Later Medieval Philosophy, eds. Norman Kretzmann et al. (Cambridge, 1982), 235 n. 94, and 226 n. 61.



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